The Art Nouveau period first startled the art world, exuberant, erotic, it burst forth in a daring contrast to Victorian priggishness (formal conceitedness) and captured the imagination of artists everywhere. It was daring, it was new as the word means, and it was pleasing to look at.
The Art Nouveau period personified two major subjects: nature and woman. It was in jewelry making that the Art Nouveau design reached its zenith -- skilled artists experimented with intricate motifs and new techniques and created magnificent sculptures in miniature.
Thus, much of the jewelry manufactured at the turn of the century depicted animals, insects, and flowers using soft pastel enamels and colored gem stones. "Woman," the other major theme, was usually shown as graceful and sensuous, much like the women seen in Renoir and Degas paintings.
This period in jewelry history utilized new techniques in design and manufacturing, such as "Plique-a-jour” enameling (which means light of day - it is like a stained glass window effect) mastered by famous artists like Lalique and Tiffany.
This was a very radical movement at this time. Much like the Hippie movement of the 60’s.
Many artists still strive to keep this Nouveau style alive even today.